Archive | Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

Flowers Suitable for Art Painting

I am no botanic artist and I am too old to learn and train but I do appreciate a good source photograph to paint in oils.

This clematis bloom captured at an RHS trial gave me inspiration to get it painted.

Colours Contrast and Tone

  1. Seldom are white flowers exclusively white but a mix of many colours and shades. School boy physics explained that white light could be split by a prism into all the colours of the rainbow.
  2. The light source is full-on yet there are graduations of tone that stop short of full shadows.
  3. The overlaid petals and the veins seem lighter and brighter.
  4. The bottom leaves are dark blue-green which helps them to recede and provide much needed contrast.
  5. Aesthetically I like the pistels and the lime green colouring.

Composition

  1. The focal point is the flowers center. I could drop the intruding leaf from the left if I thought it conflicted with the prime focus but the round shape is pleasing.
  2. The picture takes the eye round in a series of circles and ellipses and keeps the eye within the frame.
  3. The colour scheme is simple and not too complex but the execution may be more problematic.
  4. The focal point may be a bit too central but is offset by the second flower. In any event the final painting can be skewed left or right if desired.

I will attempt a painting and ‘may’ even show the result later

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Herbs for a Vegetarian Christmas

Book Cover Our son is a staunch vegetarian and his Christmas present this year will have a herb theme. He has the space for many pots and some new raised beds as he develops his garden 200 miles south of our Yorkshire home. It is  bound to be warmer down there if not Mediterranean.

My selection of plants to grow will be governed by seeds I will give him to create a ‘saladery’ ( my word for a green leafy range of herb crops.) As a carnivore I can’t resist some Beef Tomatoes and Lambs lettuce on the menu.

Salad Seeds

  • Coriander for cut and come again leaves and ultimately seeds. I have bought a lemon coriander packet from Suttons said to be ideal to entice ladybirds.
  • Basil [Ocimum basilicum  ] should produce well and there are several varieties to chose from . Sweet basil, lemon basil and lettuce leaf basil are on the list.
  • I had not thought of eating Bergamot leaves ( Monarda didyama) but they are recommended in my herb book.
  • Chervil,  and chives are good old fashioned standbys.
  • Fennel and dill have similar tastes.
  • Lovage tastes a bit like cellery but beware of the diuretic effect.
  • Flat leaved and curly parsley ane a personal favourite
  • Sweet cicely roots can be boiled to bulk out a salad.

long tom herbs

Other Recommended Herb Garden Staples

  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Camomile
  • Garlic
  • Bay
  • Marjoram
  • Lavender
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Fruit and Veg Airmiles – A Fruity Post

We need a rebellion against the extinction of the greengrocer but in the meantime it is a good time to use your garden productively. Late autumn in a great time to plant some fruit trees and canes. You can also use the cold months to plan and prepare your own vegetable crop production for the next year.

Recommended Crops

  • From the array on this fruit stall I would strongly recommend you increase the number of apples, pears and plums you plan to harvest. Better to have air yards from garden to kitchen than air mile from exotic countries.
  • The next on my wish list would be cane fruit and strawberries. By selecting appropriate varieties you can get good crops over a 4/5 month period and the taste will be fresh and wholesome.
  • I have skirmished with citrus fruit and exotics but have given myself a pass. Greenhouse space is to precious and crop levels are unreliable. I consider a grape vine worth cultivating if you can get the right conditions.
  • This fruit shop in Cardiff also had ‘imported’ sharon fruit, pomellos, lemons, melons, satsumas, pineapples, chinese chestnuts, pomegranates and persimmons. I don’t think I have tasted all those fruit types never mind trying to grow them

 

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Strulch does well in Pots

Widgeon

Strulch is an organic mulch made from straw with embedded minerals. I made use of a lot of Strulch this spring and it has done a good job in several ways most visibly on the plants grown in pots.

Pot Plants With Strulch

  • Strulch mulch reduces weed growth by up to 95% but as you see a couple of weeds poked through. However, they were easy to hand weed the recalcitrants.
  • In the hot dry spring the pots needed a lot of watering but the mulch  helped retain moisture around plants.
  • Enriching the soil and its structure as it slowly decomposes is not critical to pot plants but there are some benefits. I would have added some straw to my homemade compost if it was available.
  • Even with my thin layer it lasts up to two years saving water and fertiliser but next year I will make the layer a bit thicker.
  • As claimed there was no sign of Slugs and Snails so I will try to use it on my dwarf hostas next spring.
  • The light brown appearance was aesthetically pleasing and seemed neat and tidy.
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Crab Apples to make Your Knees Go To Jelly

Feeling grouchy and ill-tempered then perhaps you should plant a crab apple and that way you won’t feel crabby much longer.

Key Facts about Crab Apples.

  • Common apples and crab apples are related. They are both members of the malus genus.
  • They are grown for their lavish display of spring blossom.
  • After the blossom a copious amount of small fruit are generally produced suitable for jelly or jam making.
  • The right variety can make an ideal specimen tree for a small or medium sized garden.
  • Original European crab apples have short spines and can be found growing wild in hedgerows.
  • Horticulturally they are often used in orchards inter-planted with apples to assist pollination. They themselves are self fertile.
  • Fruit may be red, green or yellow.
  • Plant new trees grafted on to semi-dwarfing stock during winter.

AGM Varieties

RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) are designed to helps you choose the best crab apples to grow and include Butterball producing butter coloured fruit. Jelly King has large fruit and guess what they can be used for. Laura is a registered variety that is naturally dwarf yet a good all rounder. Red Sentinel and Sun Rival have upright and weeping shapes respectively. Other awarded crabs include Evereste, Comtesse de Paris, Admiration, Cardinal,  Malus transitoria, Scarlett and the Japanese Crab Malus floribunda.

Other pictures from Google

 

 

 

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Stepover Fruit to Save Space

Take a new step in your garden this autumn by planting some step-over fruit trees.

Growing Stepover Fruit Trees

  • These fruit trees are effectively one tier espaliers
  • They are kept low enough to step over when necessary. 18-25″ will normally suit.
  • Starting with a Y shape with two main shoots train them horizontally in opposite directions. Aim for a spread of 10 feet. Prune out the vertical leader
  • Support with low wire on a ‘gripple system’.

Benefits of Stepover Fruit Trees

  • Ideal for planting in front of ornamental borders
  • Form a low edging for vegetable plots.
  • Increases the yield from small spaces particularly in smaller gardens. Larger fruit and often less numerous on stepovers.
  • There are a growing number of species now available from specialist suppliers particularly of apples and pears. Select spur-fruited varieties on dwarf stock.
  • They can become attractive conversation pieces.
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Fine Ferns and Damp Moss

I am not a great fan of ferns as I live too near moorland that shares its bounty with gay abandon and I spend significant time removing uninvited guests. These are usually Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) or  Buckler-fern (Dryopteris
dilatata) with fronds that are arranged like a shuttlecock. There are some exceptions such as the Hart’s tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium) and the  Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) shown in this wall. The strap like fronds  and pinnate rectangular leaflet fronds make a simple  feature on this mossy wall.

Ferns Favourite Locations

  • Due to the microscopic airborne spores British species of ferns can grow in many unusual places such as rocky habitats.
  • Woodland ferns such as Dryopteris species are easy and accommodating in the garden.
  • The striking Osmunda regalis aka The Royal Fern prefers a wetland area.
  • There are several ferns suitable for ground cover and a selection can be found  on the native fern website

 

 

 

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Mast Year 2019

As I walked past a line of trees the beech nut husks crunched under foot. The pavement was strewn with copious quantities of this crunchy produce from the venerable trees. I was moved to include a few notes on nature’s masting process.

Mast Production

  • A mast year occurs when a bumper crop is produced. It has the effect of increasing the potential for reproduction but also feeds-up creatures in anticipation of a hard winter.
  • Mast seeding is also called masting and the produce is a mast
  • Mast years are so called due to the  production of many seeds by a plant every two years or so
  • Masts are often produced in in regional synchrony with other plants of the same species.
  • It is thought a mast year may be designed as a defense to assist reproduction of a species because seed predators become satiated before all the seeds have been consumed.
  • Many species ‘mast’ including oak, hickory, and beech with their acorns, hickory nuts, and as with beechnuts they produce a ‘hard mast’.
  • Fruit trees and other species may produce a soft mast but the volume of produce will still be much more fruit than normal


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Plastic and the New to Me Clematis Madame Le Coultre

The Shopping Experience

  • I had some birthday money from a brother-in-law and opted to but a clematis. One of the few spaces in the garden to accommodate a new plant was just alongside a conical climbing frame – that spot is now taken.
  • Initially I looked at a garden center chain which had a comprehensive stock but was well priced for the profit they would want. The information about each plant was quite comprehensive.
  • Then I visited and supported a local family garden center come nursery. They had bought in a fair selection of clematis at about half the cost of their bigger rival and that is where I made my purchase. I also bought some other plants that they had grown themselves ( there is a lesson there somewhere).
  • The label was 18″ long (or 46cm for the Dutch supplier’s benefit) but the gardening information was sparse, needed decoding and was not worth all the plastic used.
  • The label did not say from what group the clematis came. Clematis jackmanii group 2 as I found out.
  • There were no planting or growing aids just lame graphics with ticks and crosses, oh and a bar code but no price (I guess that changes to suit circumstances not buyers) .
  • There were 5 support canes that needed 2 plastic ties and a plastic label stake.
  • You could have guessed the pot was black plastic with an unusual and unreusable oval base designed to support growth and retail presentation.

The Plant Experience

  • This jackmanii hybrid is a real show stopper! It can also be trained to cover walls, trellises or arches.
  • The large white flowers with golden stamens are produced all summer from June to September or Vl -Vlll as the label has it.
  •  Clematis ‘Madame le Coultre’ grows to  Height: 3m (10′). Spread: 1m (3′) Pruning group: 2 ie. in late winter or early spring and after its first flush of flowers in summer to encourage flowers again later in summer.
  • Also known as ‘Marie Boisselot’ Clematis.
  • I will update progress quicker than my post from November 2011 which is still relevant.

Permission is granted to copy  this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

 

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Tips for Growing Clematis all Year Around

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There is a clematis for every season, every aspect and every place. The flower size and colour range is also wider than you may imagine. Update I have just bought (2.9.19) another clematis Madame Le Coultre for flowering june to august.

Types of Clematis for growing all year around

Early Flowering Species like alpina or montana types.
Summer Flowering hybrids like patens and florida types
Late flowering Hybrids and species like jackmanii, tangutica and viticella types
Herbaceous clematis x jouiniana or Koreana lutea
Evergreen and tender species armandii, cirrhosa and tender plants from the southern hemisphere

Selected Varieties by Colour

White – Marie Boisselot, Montana sericea, Armandii or Clematis chrysocoma.
Red – Ville de Lyon, Madame Juklia Correvon or Ernest Markham.
Yellow – Clematis tangutica, Moonlight, Ligusticifolia or Otto Froebel.
Violet – Etoile Violette or Clematis alpina Francis Rivis.
Blue – Ascotiensis, Macro petal Blue Bird or Multi Blue.
Pink – Clematis montana Elizabeth, Bees Jubilee or Hagley Hybrid.
White and purple Clematis florida Sieboldii.

Soil and Growing Condition Tips

Soil for Clematis should not be too acidic but alkaline soil is fine. Impoverished soil near a wall or under a hedge should be improved with plenty of humus before planting. Sandy soil looses moisture quickly and also needs humus adding.
All clematis will grow better if the roots are kept cool. Plant a bit deeper than the soil level in the pot where they were grown and cover the roots area with a tile, rock or mulch.
Large flowered varieties will have stronger colours if the flowers grow in light shade.
Use a good Foliar feed every 7-10 days and a good root drenching weekly.

Types of Clematis Support

All clematis even the herbaceous varieties need some support. The easiest support is often other plants with matching characteristics – heather for small macropetala types or a tree for the more robust viticella varieties.
Walls are fine as long as the mortar and brickwork is sound for a network of wire. Clematis montana can cover a large wall quickly.
Trellis itself needs to be securely attached to battens but can be attractive when cloaked in Clematis or on it’s own in winter.
Archways, tripods and obelisks look great when covered with a climber such as clematis. Similarly pergolas can have both climbing roses and clematis co-existing.
Try a pillar made from a length of Oak or hardwood to train your clematis because you are bound to want to grow more once you start.

Varieties of Clematis from Thompson & Morgan

Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’ also known as Old Man’s Beard flowers is a superb evergreen clematis bears its delicately fragrant, waxy, bell-shaped flowers in the depths of winter.
The foliage is so lush, that you’ll think its summertime all year round!
Plant Clematis ‘Winter Beauty’ against a warm house wall so that you can appreciate its winter flowers from your window. This sought after variety will appreciate a sheltered site with some winter protection.
Height: 4m (13’). Spread: 1.2m (4’). Pruning Group: 1

Clematis ‘Bill MacKenzie’ really couldn’t be easier. Watch it scramble over fences, covering unsightly sheds with ease. From midsummer this versatile climber is covered in small canary yellow blooms, which give way to large fluffy seedheads for an attractive autumn display.

Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’™ are quite extraordinary.A fountain of crystal-blue stamens radiate from the centres of the dazzling blue, 15cm (6”) wide blooms. Terrifically floriferous, this clematis continues to bloom throughout summer and into early autumn. It’s compact habit makes it ideal for containers and small gardens.

Clematis armandii flowers in spring with exquisitely fragrant, star-shaped white blooms literally smother this beautiful evergreen clematis in spring. The new foliage emerges bronze tinted, gradually maturing to glossy dark green that will quickly cover walls and fences within a few years. Best suited to a sheltered position, this vigorous clematis requires plenty of space to twine its long evergreen stems.

Companion plants for Clematis
Tips on Pruning Clematis

Cultivating Clematis All Year Around

  • Pot up small clematis plants and grow them on until large enough to plant in their final positions.
  • When planting clematis, choose a position in sun or semi-shade and plant the climber deeply in moist, fertile, well drained soil.
  • Position the top of the rootball at a depth of at least 3″ below soil level to encourage new shoots to form from the base of the plant and prevent wilt.
  • Clematis dislike soils that are particularly wet or dry. Soil can be improved by the addition of plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost.
  • Train clematis plants onto a suitable support such as trellis, wires or a freestanding climbing frame.

See also The Climbing Clematis Family

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